Somebody posted this on Facebook the other day, and knee-jerk-ish, I had to answer (somewhat paraphrased):
“Learn to read music. You never meet a dumb musician. I don’t necessarily mean garage bands, but reading music, playing in ensembles. Reading music makes you smart.”
Of course, someone had to call names: they called me a snob. However, my point would be just the opposite. I wish that every student could learn to read music. It brings to mind that wonderful free afterschool music program in New York, Los Angeles, and hopefully other places: Harmony. Students receive free instruction and use of instruments to learn music. Watch how some of the NY students respond to a concert they played in, conduced by Placido Domingo. This program is based on the famed El Sistema program in Venezuela.
Students in these programs say they are doing much better in schoolwork since playing an instrument. They come to life, they say, after school is done and they are able to go make music.
As an English teacher and artist, I finally came to music later in life when I learned to play the recorder. Now I play well enough to confidently join in ensemble playing in various recorder ensembles. It’s so much fun playing together! It also takes super concentration, counting madly, focusing consistently, and being able to track with the eyes and with the mind.
Oh, are these intellectual skills? Might they not help with one’s education?